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The best new non-alcoholic drinks for a happy hour without the hangover

NA drinks are better than ever

Wilderton Aperitivo and citrus.
Wilderton / Wilderton

Within the vast realm of drinks, the most evolved as of late is arguably the non-alcoholic category. While we’ve seen exciting new cocktail trends and useful new beer hop varieties, it’s the NA world that’s made the biggest strides in the last couple of years. That means we no longer have to shutter when seeing things like zero proof on labels, as the options now are better than ever.

Why the upswing? A perfect storm, really. Wellness trends continue while tech continues to evolve, making the creation of such drinks all the easier. The NA sector has proven itself to be a major player in the marketplace, and the producers have responded accordingly, giving these drinks the TLC they deserve.

So, whether you’re going without alcohol altogether or want to try cutting back a bit, now’s a fine time for either. Sometimes, you just want something you can sip on during that day that’s interesting and doesn’t set up up for a nap. Sometimes, you just want to be healthy. And often, you don’t want to wake up the next day groggy and slow to get going.

Read on for some of our favorite new NA drinks to enjoy guilt-free. From new IPA drops to lesser-known options that mimic cocktails, we’ve got the best of the bunch.

Sierra Nevada Trail Pass IPA

Trail Pass IPA.
Sierra Nevada / Sierra Nevada

We challenge you to try this IPA blind against some of your favorite traditional versions and see how it fares. Balanced, nuanced, refreshing, and hop-forward, it’s everything a great NA IPA should be. Perhaps we should not be surprised, as Sierra Nevada has always done great things in the craft beer sector.

Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA

Deschutes NA beer.
Deschutes / Deschutes

IPAs aren’t easy to make, especially without alcohol, but this one is a stellar option. It joins Black Butter Porter as a duo of new releases from Oregon’s esteemed and still family-run Deschutes Brewery.

Best Day Brewing Kolsch

Best Day Kolsch.
Best Day Brewing / Best Day Brewing

Best Day hit the circuit running with a solid line of NA beers. The best, however, is the Kolsch, a great spring and summer sipper as it’s refreshing and sprightly. Pound one after a workout or sip on one with barbecue as you hang with pals on the deck.

Wilderton Bittersweet Aperitivo

Wilderton Aperitivo.
Wilderton / Wilderton

Making waves as the first NA distillery and tasting room to open in America, Wilderton is turning out some quality botanical spirits. This one is their best, a bittersweet aperitivo that can fill the shoes of Campari.

Martini & Rossi Aperitivo

Martini & Rossi NA aperitivo.
Martini & Rossi / Martini & Rossi

Here’s another excellent aperitivo option from an Italian brand that knows the style extremely well, having made the standard versions since the 1860s. The newest NA line includes a Floreale and Vibrante options, the former a big softer and floral and the latter with a bit more bittersweet punch. They’re both great and mix with soda water beautifully.

Ancient Drinks

Ancient Drinks multipack.
Ancient Drinks / Ancient Drinks

These new elixirs are based on age-old recipes. Ingredients like apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper, maple syrup and chilis make them pretty savory and very intriguing. Made of mainly infused drinking vinegar, they’re pretty healthy and modeled after drinks from ancient eras like the Persian and Roman empires.

TÖST wine

TOST Wine cheers.

Wine has lagged behind a bit in the NA sector, but options like TÖST are promising. This writer still thinks a big assist for the style would be to call them something other than wine, as the process tends to hamper the liquid’s structure and texture. That’s not to say there aren’t good proxy options, like these aromatic sippers. Think of them more like chilled teas with some nice acid.

Recess Canned Mocktails

Three cans of Recess CBD beverage with a colorful orange to blue background.
Instagram / Recess

Recess makes soda so good and flavorful that the offerings double as RTD mocktails. Plus, they tend to be hit with some light moon-enhancers, making them great in a cooler during an afternoon picnic.

What’s next for NA drinks?

mocktail for dry january.

Continued improvement, for one. Brewers will continue to dial in their recipes, and winemakers will likely do the same. Expect to say more options in the RTD mocktail department and expanded NA drinks options on menus all over the place. Bartenders will continue to experiment in the realm, using science and inventive substitutes to match flavors and ingredients that would normally be in conventional mixed drinks.

Gen Z is very into the category, so it’s fair to say we’ll see many more intrepid young labels bubble to the surface. Perhaps we’ll see some tasty cider options or even some more options treated to various types of aging to meld flavors and create added roundness. Time will tell, and we’ll be there with a glass outstretched.

Non-alcoholic drinks extend well beyond just Dry January habits. These options are here to stay. So, next time you’re at the bar, here are the best NA drinks to order.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
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